« Sic Transit Gloria: Our Debt to Harry Anslinger | Main | A Unique American President »

December 11, 2012

Same Old, Same Old

Yesterday, NPR aired an update of a story that’s actually been around for months: there’s a critical shortage of the trained medical personnel needed to treat the growing number of returning veterans with PTSD. I immediately recalled an article published eight years ago in the the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). I remembered it well because it had confirmed something I had already learned from screening pot users: illegal “marijuana” became popular in the Sixties because the “hippies” of that era had discovered (without realizing the medical implications of their own youthful behavior) that it was excellent treatment for a number of psychiatric conditions that had yet to be described or classified by the Psychiatrists of their day. The reasons for those deficiencies are both historical and complex. Some observers claim they were part of a “conspiracy.” My own view is that a conspiracy is unlikely; in any event it would be far more important to understand what happened (so the problem can be addressed) rather than argue about the possible culpability of long-deceased human actors.

I would not have been that familiar with PTSD, one of those very entities; but unheard of by me until long after medical school, had it not been for my experience as an ad-hoc “pot doc” taking histories from people seeking to use “marijuana” legally under the grudging protection of California's proposition 215.

I also remembered being mildly surprised that the NEJM had even printed such a paper in 2004; also hopeful it might be a prelude to recognition of pot’s potential utility as therapy for anxiety.

Now I know better; eight more years of frustration have convinced me that our species' failure to see through the Nixon-Mitchell rhetoric behind the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is a critical litmus test of both our cognitive competence and our ability to ward off serious self-inflicted disasters. Science hasn't helped; in fact its benefits have made us more dangerous than ever to both the planetary ecology and our own long term survival. That's because rather than the kind, loving protectors of our children and the environment we claim to be, modern humans are more likely to be frightened, selfish children themselves seeking to live as long as possible and believing that wealth is the best way to achieve that goal. Not everyone, by any means, but a big enough majority to drag the others into supporting a bogus drug war because it allegedly protects "the kids."

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at December 11, 2012 08:48 PM